Bringing a compelling body of work to the rink, Chantal and Jocelyne Larocque remain integral in contributing towards the female game’s growing narrative. Belonging to a generation of hockey greats raised in Ste. Anne, Manitoba, their collaborative efforts as teammates with SageStrong have established a compelling chapter in the ethos of the Chief Thunderstick tournament.
In their parallel journeys, 2022 and 2023 may have been their most memorable years. From the outset, both years saw SageStrong capture back-to-back titles, allowing the sensational sisters an even more profound connection to their Métis heritage. Equally compelling, the 2022 ISBHF Masters allowed an opportunity for both sisters to represent Canada via international ball hockey. Jocelyne shared her acumen in a coaching capacity, while Chantal, also a long-time fixture for Manitoba at the CBHA Nationals, took on a leadership role with the Canadian contingent.
Additionally, 2022 saw Jocelyne enjoy the unprecedented feat of double gold. Starting with the Winter Games in Beijing, followed by the IIHF Women’s Worlds, marking the first time that both were contested in the same year. As said year also marked the debut of the women’s ice hockey tournament at Chief Thunderstick, the chance to be part of an incredible chapter in sporting Canadiana provided a milestone made greater for Jocelyne and Chantal, jubilant at the opportunity to be teammates for such an historic event.
Considering that the 2023 edition of the tournament resulted in the empowering participation of 16 teams, the presence of sisters gracing the ice emerged as an essential theme. Among the most notable pairs of sisters, the Mixed Nations roster featured Delaney Ross, a former U Sports All-Rookie for the Carleton Ravens, plus her sister Hailey, who both played professionally in Katowice, Poland.
Joining Jocelyne and Chantal on the SageStrong roster, sisters Jana and Mya Headrick were raised in the Garden River First Nation near Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. Having won the 2022 Marion Hillard Award, Jana helped organize a skills camp for Indigenous girls, one that saw teammates from the New Brunswick Reds also donate their time.
Having recently finished her rookie season with the Bemidji State Beavers of the WCHA, Mya holds a unique connection to a trio of SageStrong skaters, and current Olympians. Of note, Abby Roque starred for Wisconsin while Larocque and Lacquette spent their collegiate years in the paraphernalia of the UMD Bulldogs, both member schools of the WCHA.
Undeniably, the opportunity to return to the SageStrong roster provided Chantal with inspiration, jubilant to share the ice alongside Jocelyne. Having played together with the Calgary Oval X-Treme and Manitoba Maple Leafs over a decade ago, the Chief Thunderstick tournament allows for a magical time between these sensational sisters, both fan favorites and revered role models.
“Anytime we get to play together is special. It does not happen often, so when it does, it is quite memorable.”
Certainly, Jocelyne experienced a tremendous momentum heading into this year’s edition of the tournament. Gaining induction into the Manitoba Aboriginal Sports and Recreation Council (MASRC) Hall of Fame, the honour added to her relevance as an icon in the province’s athletic footprint. Joining a distinguished group including Lacquette, Angela Chalmers, Caroline Darbyshire, Jill Mathez, Yolande Schick, who played in the groundbreaking AAGPBL
Adding to accolades including the 2018 Tom Longboat Award, plus recognition as Manitoba’s Indigenous Athlete of the Decade, Larocque was not the only decorated athlete on SageStrong. Worth noting, Victoria Bach, also a member of Team Canada earned a place in the North American Indigenous Athletes Hall of Fame.
For Jocelyne, such achievements add another layer of meaning to the opportunity to play at Chief Thunderstick. With a second consecutive championship won alongside her sister, perhaps the greatest reward are the lifetime of memories made.
“Most definitely. I am a proud Métis woman and I am honored to represent the MASRC.
Anytime I get the opportunity to play with my sister is special! The best part, both years, was being able to be her teammate. The goal of participating in any tournament is to win, so that’s been the icing on the cake.”
While the year also provided Chantal a championship in the Winnipeg Women’s Hockey League, the most heartwarming aspect involves the opportunity to share in such glories with her children. With the presence of her son, and biggest fan, Nolan on-hand at this year’s tournament, with personalized stick in hand, his name spelled out in red tape on the blade, her glowing smile was evident on game days.
Looking forward to the day when her children grace the ice, the current state may represent the happiest time of Chantal’s life. Complemented by the opportunity to keep calling Jocelyne a teammate, continuing to reach new plateaus, their legacy among the most notable, and accomplished, pair of sisters in Canadian women’s ice hockey stands as more than a point of pride, but an admirable inspiration.
“It means a lot when my kids watch me play. Nolan, along with my twins Gracelyn and Rylan, often watch me play ice and ball hockey. I cannot wait till they get a bit older to start watching them play!”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated“